In the 2nd reading from Jan 29th, we were challenged with a revolutionary concept of agape love. Paul’s description in I Corinthians 13, though often used in wedding ceremonies (mine included!), takes us far beyond a prescription for a happy and blessed marriage: it calls us to a radical love that embraces all, not just those we love, but those with whom we differ and disagree: Love that embraces everything, beyond our fellow humans, to include all living things on this planet. Pope Francis, in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, calls us to this greater love:
If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn “realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.” It is good for humanity and the world at large when we believers better recognize the ecological commitments which stem from our convictions. (L.S.#64)
Jesus insists that there must be a connection between our convictions and our commitments. In order to bring forth good fruits, we need to be aware of what is in our hearts. Lent, beginning March 2nd, is a perfect time to discover what is really in our hearts, to make room for agape, moreover, to LIVE agape, to put love in action.
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God. (Joel 2.12)
Yes, Lent can be a time of repentance, fasting, tithing, etc, but, to repeat Paul: “…though I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Whatever spiritual practices you anticipate for your journey through Lent, may the Lord help you discern what is really in your heart, and break that heart open to include ALL of Creation.
We are speaking of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness (L.S.#226)
Mary McCarty is a native of Southern California and has been managing the bookstore at the Jesuit Retreat Center for over 4 years.